Three-day emergency exercise focuses on security and terrorist threats

Friday 25 05 2018

Safety & Security is one of the five strategic priorities of Antwerp Port Authority. Its Safety & Security department recently took part in a large-scale, multidisciplinary emergency exercise under the name "PortEx2018" in collaboration with the emergency services of the Governor of Antwerp Province.

Worst case scenario

PortEx2018 was a multi-disciplinary field and desktop exercise in dealing with a worst case scenario for the port of Antwerp. Ingredients of the hypothetical disaster included eco-anarchists trying to break into various buildings, a Saudi sheik visiting the port along with a VIP retinue, a gunfight, a hijacking, a threatened collision with an ammonia tanker, a violent incident on board a ship and a terrorist threat.

Large-scale collaboration

During the first day of the exercise the emphasis was on gathering and sharing information.

On the second day it was extended to a provincial coordination exercise involving the provinces of Antwerp and East Flanders. On the last day there was an operational deployment exercise in which emergency services were actually called out.

The three-day disaster exercise with the focus on security threats in the port of Antwerp saw participation from 20 or so security services including Police, Fire Department, Defence, State Security etc. A number of companies in the port (PSA-MPET, Total and Exxon) also took part.

Port of Antwerp expertise

The various participants were satisfied overall with the exercise. Cathy Berx, Governor of the Province of Antwerp, spoke of an excellent three days during which collaboration and coordination were key.

The port of Antwerp is widely regarded for its expertise in this field, and its "Exercitium" disaster management manual served as the overall guideline for the exercise. This manual, published in 2012 at the request of the European Commission, is now used by other ports in Europe and by the US Coast Guard.